Bless and protect
Brothers and sisters: Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body.
How very important is St. Paul’s discourse with the people of Colossae in Asia Minor. The primary subject of the section of his letter we read today is how to live the ideal Christian life.
As Jesus had told us: [we] are not of the world, even as [He is] not of the world. But we must live here; we must work to transform the world, conforming it to Jesus’ way of life so that His kingdom may be made real among us. That is the job we accept in our baptism. As such we must strive to be living examples. We must work toward the perfection of life Jesus modeled for His disciples – that’s us.
The Church at Colossae was not without troubles. Paul had spent two years planting and building the Church in Asia Minor. Starting in Ephesus he branched out and as Acts tells us: “all the residents of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord.” Of course, Paul wasn’t solely responsible, for the initial hearers of the word became proclaimers of the Word.
From prison, Paul had heard that the Colossians, who had at one time been strong in their faith, were now vulnerable to deception about the faith. He wrote to refute each of the errors the Colossians were tempted to embrace and which were dividing them. The letter, however, takes readers far beyond theology. Paul cared deeply that all of his readers (including us) understand the context of their lives within God’s Story, and what that looks like in their relationships. We can imagine the disputes that were taking place, the confusion, and people stepping forward as ‘thought leaders.’ Others saying, ‘Forget it, I’m quitting.’ Paul was calling them back to right faith and right action – that they be one body, one family. They were not to quit, even if offended, but to forgive, to become better, and to be living examples of life in the family of Christ.
He puts a fine point on this by saying: And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
Whatever we do when we enter the doors of the Church, and when we leave is to be done in the name of Jesus. Very appropriate to us, the family of Christ blessed and protected at Holy Name of Jesus!